Anthropological Quarterly is a publication of

 The George Washington University

   Institute for Ethnographic Research

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Volume 89, #1 • Winter 2016




The AIDS House: Orphan Care and the Changing Household in Lesotho

Ellen Block, College of St. Benedict/St. John's University

ABSTRACT—HIV/AIDS has brought the connections between care and relatedness into sharp relief. In the midst of social change driven largely by the AIDS epidemic, the house has emerged as the most stable element connecting kin in Lesotho. Houses provide spaces that frame human actions, transform relationships, and reflect the social order. The house is a key crossroads for human movement. It is also the site where physical connections, emotional bonds, and feelings of love and affection are nurtured. Most significantly, it is the site where physical acts of caring take place. Based on extensive ethnographic research, I demonstrate that in the context of AIDS-driven population change, the house is one of the places where the impacts are most felt because of its role in structuring care. AIDS has intensified the importance of the house as caregiving has become a primary means for shaping relatedness. [Keywords: HIV/AIDS, orphans, caregiving, aging, houses and house life, anthropology, grandmothers]


In the Wake of Mexican Patrimonio: Material Ecologies in
San Miguel Coatlinchan

Sandra Rozental, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana

ABSTRACT— San Miguel Coatlinchan, a town 35 miles east of Mexico City, became famous following an episode of state-perpetrated dispossession. In 1964, the Mexican state enforced its legal claim to pre-Hispanic material culture as national property by removing a colossal pre-Hispanic monolith from its lands and transporting it to the capital’s National Anthropology Museum. Ever since, the stone sculpture that represents an ancient rain deity has stood at the entrance of the museum as an emblem of Mexico’s ancestral indigenous heritage or patrimonio. For the residents of Coatlinchan, however, the monolith’s removal brought about ecological and social disruptions: drought and other forms of scarcity which profoundly altered their town and its surrounding landscape. In this article, I draw on an ecological framework to explore the productive effects of dispossession and absence in Coatlinchan. Rather than analyzing its residents’ loss as that of a bounded artifact, I argue that material traces from the pre-Hispanic past are embedded within and integral to webs of environmental, material, and social relations that are essential for the production and reproduction of life itself. [Keywords: Ecology, material culture, heritage, dispossession, absence, property, archaeology.]


From the Mayor’s Viewpoint: Notes on the “Spatialization of the State”
in Northern Italy

Jaro Stacul, University of Alberta

ABSTRACT—This article explores the ways the Italian state was represented as a spatial entity when the ascendancy of political forces with a neoliberal agenda challenged the state’s legitimacy as the dominant framework for organizing the economy. Drawing upon ethnographic information collected in the Alps of Trentino, I discuss the role played by a mayor in ‘translating’ between the worlds of officialdom and that of the local community, and particularly in affecting the ways the state is understood in a fluid political situation. The article draws parallels between the discursive practices of this mayor and those of media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, who was Italy’s Prime Minister for eight years. It highlights the contradictions that inform these politicians’ constructions of the Italian state. When they want to present themselves as the leaders close to the people, they represent the state as an entity protecting its citizens. In contrast, when they get into legal troubles or when state laws work against their economic interests as businessmen, they avail themselves of the language of business, and cast the state as a distant and bureaucratic entity that needs to be modernized and rationalized. The spatial dimension of the state figures prominently in such constructions. Yet, while the state uses spatial discourse to ‘encompass’ people and link them to a particular territory, the mayor casts the state as a space ‘outside’ of the people he represents. In suggesting that representing the state as a spatial entity may also serve to cast it as the ‘Other,’ especially at the local level, this article pursues the argument that examining the spatiality of different forms of government also entails understanding the localized social processes through which state ‘spatialization’ takes shape. [Keywords: Italy, localism, mayors, neoliberalism, space, state]



Volume 89, #1

Winter 2016


To Bind and To Bound: Commensuration Across Boundries